Saturday, July 2, 2016

Infinite Jest: Pages 49-66: Hal in the Lung Tunnels, Gately! Dr. James O. Incandenza, Filmmaker

It's like mining a hermetic text for clues to the Great Mystery, or like exploring the crevices and fissures of reality with an accomplished and garrulous guide. You need to read slowly, paragraph by paragraph, a notating implement in hand. I use a mechanical pencil.

The team's pace has slowed to a crawl, to a stop really. I have lost both ND and LL. The fabled 75 pages a week was a pipe dream; at current rate, we will finish (rather, I will finish) in approximately 15 months. Absurd!

Of course the question, from the docent's point of view, is - should I go on alone? Right now the answer is yes, albeit slowly. I am like a cat at a screen door sniffing airborne temptations wafting in from outside.

How can it be that every measly span of pages (less than 20 for this entry) delivers brilliance and amazement? The margins in my copy are well-scrawled-in, almost every page. How can a mere 20 pages of a 1000+ page novel deliver plot hints and directional foreshadowing? Maybe it takes a second reading to recognize how much is going on in every passage, in every sketch and interlude, in every endnote.

Hal with "his little brass one-hitter" getting stoned by himself in the Lung Room deep under the Enfield Tennis Academy, in the tunnels. Every preppy stoner past & present relates immediately to this chapter:

A one-hitter, sort of like a long FDR-type cigarette holder whose end is packed with a pinch of good dope, gets hot and is hard on the mouth - the brass ones especially - but one-hitters have the advantage of efficiency: every particle of ignited pot gets inhaled; there's none of the incidental secondhand-type smoke from a party bowl's big load, and Hal can take every iota way down deep and hold his breath forever, so that even his exhalations are no more than slightly pale and sick-sweet-smelling. (p49)

HFS, absolutely. He nailed it.

Endnote madness! Page 53, in one paragraph come endnotes 5 - 9, all drug-explications.

Gately's first appearance! (p55). Autumn - Year of Dairy Products From the American Heartland. An utterly horrifying vignette that introduces one of the central characters of the ensuing thousand pages and suggests future passages of cringe-inducing stories and imagery.

... ferocious jolliness... (p55)

The thing started out looking like tit on a tray, burglary-wise. (p56)

Then there's the passage (beginning on p63) on James O. Incandenza, Hal's father (deceased), founder of the Enfield Tennis Academy but, more importantly, the noted avant garde filmmaker and creator (one learns if one reads endnote #24) of the eponymous cartridge/entertainment, Infinite Jest.

Endnote 24 is staggering. The James O. Incandenza Filmography, nine pages long. There are footnotes within the endnote!

And there are crucial details and clues to the whole novel contained within the film descriptions. Each film listed in the filmography warrants a close read because the details and synopsis are so fucking rich and wacky and make you write in the endnote margin HFS. To wit:

Pre-Nuptial Agreement of Heaven and Hell. B.S. Latrodectus Mactans Productions/Infernatron Animation Concepts, Canada. Animated w/ uncredited voices; 35 mm; 59 minutes; color; sound. God and Satan play poker with Tarot cards for the soul of an alcoholic sandwich-bag salesman obsessed with Bernini's "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa." PRIVATELY RELEASED ON CELLULOID AND MAGNETIC VIDEO BY LATRODECTUS MACTANS PRODUCTIONS. (p988, endnote #24)

I mean, the whole filmography is a creative achievement in its own right. Hilarious, twisted, really Out There in a laugh-out-loud sort of way. Not to mention that the last entry cited in the filmography is Infinite Jest, the film. Essential to read this. Anyone skipping the endnotes is automatically disqualified from the club of Infinite Jest Totalists.

Sentence Alert! On page 64, the middle paragraph is comprised of two sentences, the first one a 145 word gem (the word count disputable depending on whether you treat hyphenated words as one or two words, i.e., hard-drinking or U.S.-spoused). Regardless, the paragraph is not to be missed.

Infinite Vocab

parget(ed) (p51) - plaster or any similar wall covering.

apocopes (p57) - the cutting off or dropping of the last sound or sounds of a word.

bolection (p62) - a molding that projects beyond the surface of a panel

reglets (p62) - (architecture) a flat, narrow molding, used to separate panels.

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